Have you every been looking through a magazine and had the thought, “I know they aren’t using a smartphone for photography!” Well, that might not always be the case.
Going back a few years, it was almost inconceivable that a professional would be using a smartphone for photography. But, more and more professional photographers are seeing smartphone cameras as a viable alternative in certain situations. In fact, back in 2012, Ben Lowy shot an image for the cover of Time magazine with his iPhone 4s.
With every new iteration, using a smartphone for photography becomes a less difficult decision. With smartphone sensors getting better and lens manufacturers like Zeiss and Leica producing smartphone lenses, the landscape is changing.
At the moment, in a professional setting, a dSLR is still the way to go. But even those lines are becoming more blurry, every time a new smartphone is released. The biggest benefit for a dSLR, is sensor size. But, the sensor size debate is one for another day. If you can’t wait, there’s a good article on the Android Authority website.
In the meantime, if you’re still not sure that using a smartphone for photography is the correct move for you, here are some things to think about.
Reasons for using a smartphone for photography
- Most consumer level dSLR cameras retail at between £400 – £600. You smartphone camera is free.
- With a dSLR, you generally have to carry some kind of camera bag, or carry an extra 1.5 kilo around your neck. With your smartphone camera, you need a pocket (or a handbag).
- Pixel count on the average dSLR is around 24 megapixels. On a smartphone it ranges anywhere from around 12 megapixels (iPhone 13), to 108 megapixels (on the new Samsung S22).
- Your smartphone camera is always with you.
- You can edit your images, right there on your phone.
- You can immediately share your images on social media, or send them to friends.
- The technology in today’s smartphone cameras, exceeds what the average amateur photographer needs.
- Your smartphone camera will automatic backup your images (although you may have to turn on the backup feature first).
- The most popular camera used by photographers on Flickr, is the iPhone.
Reasons for using a dSLR rather than a smartphone
- A dSLR has a bigger sensor. Overall quality improves with a bigger sensor. A consumer dSLR sensor, is around 5x the size of the average smartphone camera’s sensor.
- dSLR cameras are easier to hold when shooting.
- For higher end photography, smartphone cameras are more limited in what settings you can (generally) control manually .
- Using a dSLR gives an impression of professionalism.
- A wider selection of lenses are available, for specialised photography projects.
- A purpose built device is always going to outshine an ‘additional’ device, the more professional the result you need.
As with everything, it’s a case of ‘horses for courses’. There are always going to be situations, where a smartphone camera just won’t be good enough. But, those situations are becoming less and less obvious every year.
An as for my opinion? There’s absolutely no reason to consider buying a dSLR under normal circumstances. In almost all the situations you’re going to find yourself in, your smartphone camera will be more than enough to produce stunning images.
If you’re thinking of becoming a professional at some stage in the future, I would still use a smartphone for photography.
The technical aspects of photography don’t change. ISO, aperture and shutter speed skills are the same on both systems. And an ability to understand the light and envision an image are exactly the same too.
Personally, I’ve ditched all but one of my purpose built cameras. I still use my old Olympus EP1 mirrorless camera occasionally. For my general needs though, my smartphone camera is almost always more than adequate.
What will your decision be?